Once again I find myself in the unenviable position of having to try to write in a coherent and measured style, following yet another shambolic performance at the Olympic stadium. What I really want to do is scream.
There were very few positives to take from the encounter against Manchester City but I will begin by highlighting those that I can just about recall.
- The way in which the Ferghouli started and our general composure during the opening 25 minutes should perhaps give us some encouragement that we can actually play football at times.
- We were solid and compact at the start, although undoubtedly conceding the majority of possession, and we were competitive during this opening period.
- It could be argued that once again the game turned on a very dubious penalty award to the big club. That does not excuse the subsequent capitulation but it is the case that at 1-0 down following the award of yet another non-penalty, we felt as though we ought to try to chase the game. (Of course, this was absolutely not the case so early on and showed tactical naivete which then resulted in wide open spaces and the concession of two further goals before half time, rendering the remainder of the contest an academic exercise.)
Hmmn. I seem to have pretty much exhausted the positives. The negatives were many. Here are just a few of the low-lights (no doubt you’ll have spotted others):
- Amongst the many failures this evening was indeed that aforementioned intelligence test. At half time, and in a cup game, one hoped to see some sort of tactical readjustment by the manager to at least have a go at our more illustrious opponents. It did not materialise. The same 11 players re-emerged after the half time interval and worse, only to stroll around the pitch looking lost and forlorn – seemingly waiting for the inevitable 4th goal that would begin to signal a deepening of the already embarrassing state of affairs. And so it came to pass.
- (And this may not go down too well with some of you) we need to ship out Payet and cash in on his worth while we still have that opportunity. This player has clearly lost any intention of putting in any sort of a shift for our club and is, in my view, holding back the progression of the team.
- (And it pains me to say this too) I am now beginning to lose faith in our manager. Any team that can shows such a lack of passion, of fight, of even basic tactical or game management expertise must surely be being led poorly. I am at the point of concluding that Slaven Bilic may no longer be the answer.
I expected to lose this evening and perhaps even to lose heavily. Despite that fact, this is a defeat that is every bit as painful as it could have been anticipated to have been and leaves us all with a sense of trepidation for the future.
Testing times indeed my dear Hammers.